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Make Art, Not Content

Nobody cares about your content. Make Art, Not Content

That’s the harsh truth we must come to accept as modern content creators.

A 2018 report published by Statista, based on data compiled by go-globe.com, reports that this is what happens in 60 seconds online.

  • 243,000 Facebook photos are uploaded
  • 400+ hours of video are uploaded to YouTube
  • 65,000+ photos are uploaded to Instagram
  • 156+ million emails are sent

Content is everywhere, being made by anyone. Nowadays, being a content creator is no special feat. It’s practically a prerequisite for existing online and maintaining any semblance of relevancy. There’s Canva for design; Snapseed for mobile photography; iMovie for video editing; and many other apps making it easier than ever to create more content. And as a result, we’re seeing just that. More content.

My stance here is not so much that content is inherently bad, or that we should stop creating content. I’m of the opinion that the mind frame from which we create social media content is in desperate need of change. A change that consists of more art and less content.

Your Brain On The Internet

Nicholas Carr, author of The Shallows: What The Internet Is Doing To Our Brains, says that the overwhelming amount of information online is overstimulating, causing the brain to give most of its attention to short-term decisions to accommodate the heavy cognitive load. He also thinks that Internet use reduces the deep thinking that leads to true creativity. MRI brain scans show changes in the white matter of the brain proving that Internet usage is not just changing the way we communicate but also the development of neural pathways in our brains.

“When the [cognitive] load exceeds our mind’s ability to process and store it, we’re unable to retain the information or to draw connections with other memories. We can’t translate the new material into conceptual knowledge.” (Carr, 2010).

After a period of time being unable to process and store content, users begin to shut down and reach a state of apathy, failing to care about your content and, therefore, your brand. This is the point where art enters the fray.

“Truth is, real artists don’t create content. They create styles — modes of acting, thinking, communicating that truthfully and dramatically express their personality . . . your style is an expression of who you are” (Blasini, 2014).

Art: More Than Ordinary Significance

Some say art can be so simple as to be the act of creating something that pleases someone.

The dictionary.com definition is “the quality, production, expression, or realm, according to aesthetic principles, of what is beautiful, appealing, or of more than ordinary significance.”

More than ordinary significance. If your Newsfeed is anything like mine, it is full of ordinary significance.

Perhaps the most beautiful aspect of art is that it is relative, having the ability to mean something different to everyone. Regardless, the common thread for defining art seems to be the act of expression, resulting in someone feeling something. The crux of experiencing art is considered to be the emotional response that follows, and that emotional response is perhaps the purpose of artistic expression. So it’s here we can appreciate the purpose of art in social media as being the influence that interrupts the apathetic browsing behaviors of users who no longer care about your content. Creating artful content gives your brand the chance to emerge from the rubbish of Newsfeed nonsense and evoke emotions that provide the opportunity to build a meaningful relationship with your audience.

Where Art Belongs In Social

Online content is a lot like bottled water. You stand there wondering which bottle to purchase, thinking that it’s all pretty much the same, and looking for the one that takes the least of your money. It’s similar to the way you go through your Newsfeed scrolling past watered down “content,” thinking it pretty much all looks the same and looking for the one that takes the least of your mental energy. I tend to make my bottled water decision based off of packaging — the art. The bottle with a unique shape or higher quality material makes me feel something the way art is supposed to. Art tends to find you. It isn’t until you discover it that you’re willing to spend the mental energy or higher price to consume what has captured you. To get people to consume your content, you have to reframe your packaging.

Art belongs in the formula for social media success. Projective art, a therapy drawing technique developed by Carl Jung, emerged to study the perceptions, attitudes, and personality of children (Malchiodi, 2003). This art wasn’t meant for a museum, much the same way your online content doesn’t need to be Picassoesque. The projective art was meant to allow kids to express themselves in ways that words could not, and your content should do the same for your brand. Each post should say something about your brand in a way that words cannot.

Todd Brison perfectly captures the essence of the distinction between art and content in his Medium piece titled Dear Writer:

  • Art — is used to touch another person’s heart
  • Content — is used to touch another person’s wallet

  • Art — for the soul
  • Content — for the mind

  • Art — stands the test of time
  • Content — is gone in moments (another one will come along soon)

  • Art — is for human beings
  • Content — is for Google

In the current climate of social media, brands are struggling to gain trust, algorithms are changing to facilitate more meaningful interactions, and fake news is a real issue. Some believe that if you create enough content, people will have no choice but to notice it, and this is where content is failing. People don’t possess the patience or processing power to sift through all the information on their feeds, so they need intentional, art-inspired content. And that content can be many things: a video that evokes emotion and generates shares; a photo that makes your audience nostalgic; or a caption that makes someone chuckle. Don’t post for the sake of posting. Post because you have something meaningful to express about yourself.

“Art is its own being, and will always find those who need it.” – Todd Brison